Buffalo Sabers selected Zach Benson in the NHL Draft

NASHVILLE — A tense afternoon got off to an anxiety-filled start to Wednesday night inside the Bridgestone Arena.

Zach Benson watched from his seat as the players he competed with or met with in Buffalo’s scouting pool were selected in the first round of the NHL Draft. Benson had a rough idea of ​​when he would be cast. Most of those teams met with and dined with Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Kyle Dubas, who owned the 14th pick. But no one knows how the annual event will happen.

Anticipation was building every time the general manager walked up to the microphone. Kevin Adams saved Benson from an even longer wait and made sure he didn’t dine with another team this week in Nashville.

Five things about Zach Benson's first-round pick for the Sabres, and that includes carnivals

Here are five things to know about the Sabers’ first pick from the NHL Draft, left wing Zach Benson, who was selected 13th overall on Wednesday.

Benson walked away from the moment Adams announced the Winnipeg Ice winger’s 13th overall pick to walking off the stage in a Sabers jersey as his family cheered from the stands.

People also read…

“Right now, I’m really excited to be a Buffalo Saber,” he stated while speaking to reporters shortly after joining the organization’s pool of talented prospects.

Benson fits the archetype of players this series has targeted since Adams became general manager in 2020. Benson, a teammate and close friend of Sabers prospect Matt Savoy, is highly competitive. He is clocked at 5-foot-10, and gaining strength will be essential as he prepares for professional hockey, but he “takes pride in getting in the dirty spots” to score goals.

Benson’s drive is relentless, checking the mortgage to regain possession and protecting the puck to buy time so he can create a scoring opportunity with a great pass. He displays intelligence on the ice through his ability to see pockets of open ice that others believe do not exist, and an insatiable appetite for improvement. Benson completes bar-to-bar passes that others would not dare attempt.

The Sabers watched Benson for two years. Their staff personally scouted the ice and poured through video leading up to the 2022 draft as they were deciding whether the Savoys would be ninth overall. Ice coach James Patrick spent six of his 21 NHL seasons as a defenseman with the Sabers and was on the team’s coaching staff with Adams from 2011-13. Adams and everyone on his team knows what to expect from the leads who play Patrick. The Sabers tried to trade in the top 10, but there was such enthusiasm among their staff, including the analytics department, that it became apparent that Benson might be available if they remained at No. 13.

Zack Benson

The Buffalo Sabers selected Winnipeg Ice winger Zach Benson with the 13th pick in the NHL Draft.

winnipeg ice

Peyton Cripps was Winnipeg’s captain when Benson joined the ice as a 15-year-old in the Western Hockey League’s bubble during the 2020-21 season. He has shown tremendous and steady growth since putting up 20 points in 24 games as one of the youngest players in the league.

Benson produced 71 goals and 181 points in 142 regular season games in the WHL, the second most points of any U18 skater in the league over the past 25 years. The only player with more: Conor Bedard, who was selected to the Chicago Blackhawks for the first time.

Adams told reporters, “In scouting meetings, I describe it very well—work ethic, competitiveness, intelligence, passion, the things I look for are all so many things.” “But one of the things that I thought was interesting as we’ve been going through our scouting meetings, every scout that’s seen him over the last couple of years, basically, because we remember how many times we’ve seen him in the Savoy draft too, they said they generally walked away from the game saying he was better. A player on the ice, no matter who the scout is, who he was or when they saw him.

“So, I just think kids like that have special qualities – and he has that kind of self-awareness and understanding of who he is as a player and what he has to do to be successful. In the end, those are the kids you look for. You’re not just looking for who they are today. He’s going to turn into a really good hockey player in the NHL.”

Mike Harrington: Don't worry about the size.  Be pleased with the talent level of the Sabers Project picks

“The Sabers want talent. They definitely want size. But talent trumps it,” Mike Harrington wrote.

Three top defensemen in the draft were off the board when the sword was on the clock, including Dmitry Semashev, who met with the Buffalo staff in Nashville. Benson, 18, was undoubtedly the best tackler on the board and fit into the team’s long-term plan. He has impressed scouts across the NHL this season by playing alongside Savoie. Benson scored 36 goals and 98 points in 60 regular season games, then seven goals and 17 points in 17 playoff games as the Ice reached the WHL Championship Series.

“I think my skill set mixed with my competitiveness,” Benson said of the traits that set him apart from others in this recruiting class. “I compete every shift and I don’t really shift. With my skill set, I think that goes a long way. I just think my intelligence, getting to places and knowing where I am.”

Production isn’t everything in the draft process. Sword, like any team, values ​​the intangibles of each player, such as work ethic and competitiveness. Not surprisingly, Benson impressed them during their meeting at the gathering. He is charismatic and confident, and not afraid to speak highly of his talents on the ice. He arrived at the draft wearing a cowboy hat and a light blue suit. His quest to be the best would fit in with many other Sabers prospects in Buffalo, Rochester, and elsewhere.

Each team has approximately 20-25 minutes to meet with a prospect during Discovery Collection Week in Buffalo. It is no longer enough time to get to know the player, but it is an opportunity to learn about his background and ask questions that help the poll crew form a unanimous opinion. The Cypresses loved everything they heard from Benson.

NHL Scout

Zack Benson participates in a vertical jump during the NHL Combine, Saturday, June 10, 2023, in Buffalo.

News agency

“Our scouts get to them throughout the year as you learn and stuff, but in the 20 or 25 minutes that you get to the combine, there are some kids who give you that feeling of being a hockey player,” Adams. “They are just winners and have a great desire to play the game and compete. He checks all those boxes. You guys know my style over the last few years.

“I think if you can add talented, motivated people who just believe it’s a privilege and an honor to play in the NHL and will do everything they can to be successful, it’s a great place to start. Zack definitely has that.”

The Benson family owns and operates West Coast Amusements, which holds carnivals across Canada. According to the company’s website, the WCA travels more than 24,000 miles each year visiting no less than 129 locations with more than 100 trailer-mounted amusement rides that split into four mobile shots. He watched his father and grandfather toil away preparing for the events. Zack even worked at the little donut stand every summer until he was 13 years old.

Here are some of the early social media reactions to Benson’s selection as a Sabers fan.

The family business is not part of Benson’s plans these days. He will participate in the Sabers’ development camp, which starts Sunday in Buffalo, and then prepare to play next season in Wenatchee, Washington, where the Ice is relocating. It’s not clear if he’ll play for Savoy, who, at 19, can’t play the regular season for Rochester in the MHL unless he’s on conditioning duty. And even though his NHL career won’t start next season for Benson, he’s learned a lot about his new team since Savoy was drafted ninth overall by Adams last year in Montreal.

“I think they want a fast team that plays with a lot of skill, work ethic, and competitiveness,” said Benson. “For me, I just want to keep competing, keep getting better. With the roster now, it looks pretty good. So, I couldn’t be more excited.”

(tags for translation) Weapons

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: